Update on our status

Greetings to all from HOT-lanta, Georgia

One thing we really miss right now are the cool summer temperatures of Norway!!!  Although, we do enjoy being able to wear shorts and flip-flops while leaving the jackets and sweaters in the closet.

We want to update you on our current status.

Jo’s role

On June 1, Jo became the Area Personnel Officer for OM’s Catalytic Ministries (Cat-Min).  This is a group of 8 different ministries located in different parts of the world.  They are called “catalytic” because they act as catalysts for ministry within the countries they support.  The ministries included in Cat-Min are specifically focused on: AIDS relief, arts in ministry, business for transformation, justice (human trafficking/slavery), Muslim focused ministry, relief and development, and sports in ministry.

These ministries have been part of the OM world for many years, but they were only organized under the umbrella of Cat-Min three years ago.  As with many re-orgs, there are still pieces of the puzzle that are missing.  One of those pieces was her role, which means she is building it as she goes.  Her role will mostly provide administrative and personnel related help to the individual team leaders because they don’t have the capacity or personnel to do this themselves.  She will be based out of the Tyrone office and will be able to work remotely when we finally decide where we want to live.

Our apartment

On June 9 we started house-sitting for an OM family that went on furlough.  This has been an enjoyable time for us for several reasons; it gave us some space to spread out, it came with a lovely little dog that we both adore, it was rent-free.  The family will return the end of July at which time we will move into an apartment in Peachtree City that we have rented for a year.  The apartment is: about 10 minutes from the office, walking distance to the local grocery store, and will provide us a stable place to finally call our home! 

The day we move into the apartment will be the end of 10 months of living out of suitcases and house-hopping.  Even though we know the apartment will also be temporary (a year +/-), it will allow us to have all our “stuff” under one roof, use our own kitchen gadgets, and finally unpack our clothes.  These may seem like trivial things, but when you’ve lived like we have these past months, they will bring us a tremendous sense of peace and stability.

Dave’s next trip

Three days after we get the keys to the apartment I will pack up again and travel to Germany for OM’s annual teen conference in Europe called TeenStreet:  https://www.om.org/teenstreet/en

I have been invited back to serve as the Team Dad and spiritual counsellor for one of the elements of TeenStreet called Global Experience (GE).  Global Experience is an interactive environment that will expose over 2,500 teens to the need and opportunities for global missions.  The GE team is made up of 50 adults from all over Europe who volunteer their week to serve the teens.  It is 12-14 hour days living in cramped/loud quarters, working under tight time limits, with people you don’t know (yet).  I will provide daily devotional times and be the shoulder to cry on, as well as the person to vent to during the 6-day event.  This will be my 5th year serving with GE and I truly enjoy being part of seeing that many teens challenged about how they will live their lives.

Our church

We have plugged back into the church we were attending before we left for Norway and we are enjoying it very much.  We have joined an engaging small group that meets weekly and it has become a safe place that we look forward to each week. I have also joined the production team at church as a photographer, Jo is still considering how/when she will serve.

Our financial support

To be honest, this is the most difficult part to communicate because I know there are many people serving around the world who are in much more difficult situations than we are.  However, we must also be honest with ourselves and you about the reality we find ourselves in.

In Jan-May 2018 our gross average monthly support was $2806.  During the same period in 2019, our support dropped to $1816.  That is a monthly gross loss of $990 per month and OM USA deducts 13% for admin costs and taxes from the remainder.

The reality for support-raising missionaries is that supporters come and go.  They have real-life situations, too, and for one reason or another, they stop supporting you.  Some notify you in advance and some don’t, some give reasons, and some don’t.  This leaves us very much trusting in God’s monthly grace to them and us. We have been aware of this downward trend since the beginning, but when we were planning to go to Ireland, it wasn’t a major concern because our budget for Ireland would have been much less than here in the US.  Additionally, our start-up expenses for Ireland would have also been much less than here. So far, we have been able to absorb this loss through our savings and adjusted life style.  However, due to the high cost of living in our area, we are no longer able to continue this negative trend and we are asking your prayer support for wisdom. 

Steps we have taken so far:

  1. I have stopped taking a salary from OM and am now a full-time volunteer.  This allows Jo to continue receiving her salary which will increase her social security payout when she retires.
  2. I am continuing to find ways to produce a sustainable income from photography, but that is very slow going while still maintaining my OM role.
  3. We are working very closely with our financial advisor on how to best use the funds in my retirement account.  He advises us strongly not to use these funds until I am age 59.5 to avoid tax penalties.  That is why we are renting an apartment for a year instead of buying a house now.
  4. We are considering one (or both of us) leaving our OM roles to find a secular job that provides more income.
  5. We have shared all of this with our church mission contact and we are looking for new financial supporters.

Our desire is to raise an additional $1000 per month.  This would allow us to serve OM full-time for two more years which would fulfill our current commitments.

We would be tremendously encouraged if you would:

  1. Pray for this specific and time sensitive financial need we have.
  2. Share our situation with anyone you feel would be interested in partnering with us as we serve through OM.
  3. Contact us to hear more about what we do and why we do it.

As always, thank you for your faithful support.  We are absolutely sure that our efforts with OM are helping to establish vibrant communities of Jesus followers among the least reached.  We are also absolutely sure that without partners like you, we would not be able to do what we do.

May you be blessed for your faithfulness.

Dave and Jo

You can see some of Dave’s photos at:

davemckissick.com

@davemckissick

Official Announcement

OM Arts is pleased to say hello to Dave McKissick! His start date is Wednesday, May 1.


As the new Arts Catalyst for Oceania / North America – he will be responsible for stewarding the ministry partnerships OM Arts has within ONA. These relationships are primarily the OM fields in ONA. But he will also be relating to churches, schools and other ministries with artistic emphases throughout the area. 


Through his focused attention on these relationships, we have high hopes that together we will be able to mobilize that many more artists, leaders of artists and funding to see vibrant communities of Jesus followers among the least reached.


Dave comes to us with a wealth of experience: as an Air Traffic Controller for the Air Force and the FAA. His OM career started in the US office in 2012, being a team leader in sending many Americans to the field for both short and long term. His most recent three years have been serving with OM in Norway, as Director of Church Relations and then as the interim Field Leader.


Dave has been married to Jo for 32 years. They have two grown daughters in the Atlanta area and they are expecting their first grand-twins!


Not only does he come with the right experience to flourish in this job, it seems God has also wired him just right to be a networker – being both extremely organized and personable at the same time. Hallelujah for good fits!


Gratefully,
Mat Carson OM Arts, Director

The Appeal…

The appeal, the announcement, the Albanians, the arts, and the adventure continues.

Spoiler alert, we are not in Ireland!

The Appeal

On December 10, we were notified that our application for long-term visas to serve in Ireland had been denied by the Irish National Immigration Service (INIS). Both Jo and I were given several reasons for this decision, some were the same, but some were different. We were given 6 weeks to appeal by submitting the additional paperwork they required. Initially, this was very frustrating because we had already submitted most of the documents they said they needed. As we communicated our situation with our OM team in Ireland, we discovered that everyone (9 people) who applied to join the OM Ireland team was denied. While this gave us comfort that it wasn’t “just us,” it also caused us concern that the issue might be outside of our control.

We gathered as much of the extra documentation as we could and submitted it prior to the deadline with minimal hope that it would be approved. One of the items they requested (twice) was copies of my (Dave) previous passports. I explained to them that they had been destroyed, but they insisted that I provide them copies; I applied for copies through the US State Department, which never arrived.

We had no idea when we would receive a decision, but if our visas would be approved, we needed to be prepared to leave the US within two weeks. However, if they were denied we would need a plan for staying in the US. Part of us wanted to be pragmatic and make a backup plan, the other part of us wanted to be faithful and let God work through the INIS process. To say the weeks of waiting were challenging would be a gross understatement.

The Announcement

On January 27 (still no word from INIS at this point), we were hosting a lunch date with our oldest daughter, Lindsay and her husband Caleb. As soon as she walked into our apartment, she said “I’m pregnant” followed by Caleb announcing, “and it’s twins!!” That is a moment that will be forever etched in our memories. Obviously, the dominate topic the rest of the day was “the babies.” One comment of that day from Lindsay caught us off-guard; she said “I really don’t want you to leave now.” FYI, twins are due in mid-August.

The Acknowledgment

One thing that Jo has said over and over is “when grandkids come, we’re done serving overseas.” I have always laughed at her for this “unspiritual” attitude, but I did know that it would cause us to think differently about living abroad. However, when I heard Lindsay’s news, my very first thought was “there is no way we can go to Ireland now.” For the next week, Jo and I wrestled with our new reality. We knew that our visas could be approved any day and that Ireland would expect us to arrive quickly. We also knew that if we got on that plane, we would be sacrificing our family, again.

We had made a commitment to OM Ireland and we knew they had been holding our roles for many months. We also knew they were losing other workers because of the visa situation and their team was diminishing. We also felt very strongly that we needed to change the trajectory of our family’s relational history by being near-by.

Jo and I are both the youngest of our respective families and there are many years between us and our siblings. Additionally, we have always lived far from our extended families so our girls never had the opportunity to have close relationships with their grandparents, aunts/uncles, or cousins. Jo and I felt that if we returned overseas, this trend would continue with the next generation and we didn’t want that. We also knew that we would not be able to fully engage with Ireland because of the babies.

After a week of this tension, we decided to acknowledge this to OM Ireland and we requested to be released from our commitment. That was a painful conversation because we felt that we were letting the Irish team down. However, it also allowed them to move forward without us and it allowed us to start focusing on a plan to stay in the US. After that conversation, we rescinded our appeals with INIS and formally ended our plan of moving to Ireland. We later found out that all of the other appeals had been denied and we felt that our decision had been validated.

While this decision did give us a sense of relief, it also created other tensions we had to navigate; what about the belongings we had taken to Ireland from Norway (about 750 pounds of household goods), we didn’t know where we could live, what we would drive, or what we would do.

The Albanians in Kosovo

After we realized we would be staying in the US, I started looking for a new role with OM USA. Several roles were offered to me and I took some weeks to decide what I wanted to do. In the meantime, I was asked to lead a Heart Sounds International (HSI) short-term mission team to Kosovo to work with a local Albanian church. The HSI team would host a worship music writing workshop to help the Albanians write ethnically Albanian worship songs in Kosovo. HSI engages with people groups in least-reached parts of the world who have little or no indigenous worship music in their own language, using their own instruments, and based on their own styles of worship. They do this through ethnomusicology (Google it). My role was mostly administrative, but I did get to use my photography skills to capture the trip in images.

The local church that invited HSI to Kosovo hoped to write 4 children’s songs and 9 adult worship songs during the 1-week workshop. When we finished, 39 songs had been written in total. The church was very excited because there had never been a single Albanian children’s worship song written in Kosovo before that workshop.

Dave with the team in Kosovo

The Arts

As I said earlier, I was offered several roles associated with the OM USA office. While I was trying to decide on what direction to go, I was given an invaluable piece of advice: determine what you DON’T want to do first, then it will be easier to determine what you DO want to do. After 6 weeks of interviews, job descriptions, clarifying questions, and searching my heart for what I could honestly say “yes” to. I accepted a role with OM Arts, yes that’s correct, Arts! People who play, sing, dance, draw, sculpt, and in general, create! OM Arts mobilizes and sustains artists in mission. My roles will be recruiting and mobilizing artistic people into missions as well as mentoring those who are already in ministry. Jo has been considering a few different options as her next area of service, too, and expects to make a decision within another week or so. Stay tuned for more information on that in our next update.

The Adventure Continues…

For now, we will continue to live near our OM USA base in Tyrone, GA, so that we can be connected to the team here. Our roles will allow us to work remotely, but we still like the interaction with the other folks. We plan to rent for a year and then buy a home between Atlanta and Chattanooga in the summer of 2020. We are looking forward to our new roles, both in ministry and as grandparents.

The Epilogue (doesn’t start with A, but it needs to be said)

Remember our church in Norway and how I took one of the pastors to Ireland, and how he wanted to start sending Norwegians to Ireland to join in the ministry there? That church has taken a giant step forward in this direction. In February, the church sent three people to Ireland on another vision trip. The church and our OM team in Ireland thought it would be a good idea if I was there to ensure the relationship got off to a good start. So, I flew to Ireland and introduced my Norwegian friends to our Irish team. We visited three different churches and they saw many opportunities for involvement in Ireland. As a result of this relationship, the Norwegian church has decided to partner with OM Ireland by sending yearly teams to participate in evangelism and practical work on the OM base. This was a perfect way for us to end the Norwegian phase of our ministry. Even though we are saddened to not be joining the Irish team, we are very happy that we were able to add to their list of partnering churches. Additionally, while I was back in Ireland I was able to have our household goods picked up and shipped to the US. Win-win!!

Dave introducing the Norwegians to an Irish church

Other notable items

• We have re-engaged with the church we were part of before we left for Norway
• We have joined a new small group
• We have been invited to participate in a weekly house-church meeting
• Dave’s photography business is gaining traction
                    www.davemckissick.com and Instagram: davemckissick
• We really enjoy spending holidays with our family again

Our first Christmas together in 3 years

Prayer Requests
• A long-term rental within our budget starting in mid-July
• Wisdom for Jo as she decides on her new role
• Wisdom for Dave as he starts his new role.
• Lindsay and the pregnancy

To be continued…

Full update coming soon. For now, Dave is on his way to Kosovo with this team.

We would be grateful if you could keep the HSI team in your prayers as they travel to Kosovo from March

28th-April 8th with Heart Sounds International (HSI).

The team will be working with a ministry that ministers to kids and youth groups in different cities of Kosovo. The team will partner with those in country to facilitate a songwriting workshop, aimed at developing children’s songs for worship and children’s meetings. The goal is to write original worship songs in Albanian that can be used with children. If time allows, the team also hopes to help participants create some more songs to be used in the church, building on last year’s successful workshop in the area.

About The Kids Club

The kids clubs have a worship time when they usually play songs and dance with actions to them. Most of the kids who attend the clubs come from Muslim background, and the ministry openly shares about Jesus every week.

The dream of the workshop is to create new songs to use in the clubs, but also to give them to other churches/NGOs to use. The ministry also wants to create videos for some of the songs in case there isn’t a dancer to lead the kids through the songs and dances.

About The Church in Kosovo

The Church is Kosovo is quite small and very young (both in the age of the Church and the age of its members). A few evangelical churches existed in the 90s, but the church did not really start growing in Kosovo until during and after the war in 1999. Immediately after the war, many organizations and workers came but very few of these original workers and organizations are still here. Praise God though that today there are a number (about 40) established churches throughout the country and most of them have local pastors. It is believed that there are around 2,000 evangelical believers in Kosovo.

Prayer Requests

  • Pray that all flights go smoothly and for peace and health as the team travels
  • For team unity and good communication
  • For the revelation of the Holy Spirit—through what is taught, received, and experienced
  • For new songs! Isaiah 42:10, “Sing to the Lord a new song, His praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you islands, and all who live in them.”
  • For wisdom on how to provide strong Biblical teaching in songs that relate to kids
  • For our workshop leaders as they work together to facilitate the workshops
  • That songwriting participants would leave equipped to keep writing songs
  • For the team to be an encouragement to the hosts
  • For more songs to be created to be sung in the Church in Kosovo. May God work mightily among these limited number of believers